The Ethiopian government has moved to place restrictions on aid intervention, consolidating a bill passed early this year limiting funding for Non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGO’s involved in aid relief programmes are expected to work within the confines of situational reports provided by the government. This comes as Ethiopia experiences a sharp rise in aid beneficiaries.
“Faced with the harsh and restrictive government action, the number of the aid beneficiaries in the country has risen in a backdrop of increasing numbers of malnourished children,” a local aid worker, who requested anonymity, said.
According to the restricting bill, NGOs can only intervene in crisis situations if their programmes fall within specific drought areas of government controlled situational reports.
Last week the government announced that the number of aid beneficiaries will increase to 6.2 million unless the current shortfall of food aid is improved. Currently the country is faced with a shortfall of 176,000metric tonnes of food and is expected to rise to 390,000 metric tonnes, unless donor assistance improves.
“I don’t understand why the government is worried about the food assistance when it is restricting intervention from NGO’s. I think it shows the government’s lack of management in handling the grave drought situation” said the aid worker.
Some analysts have linked the government measure with the recently endorsed proclamation that prohibits local NGO’s from obtaining more than 10 percent of their fund from foreign sources. It restricts local and foreign NGOs from engaging in campaigns to monitor the government’s progress in improving governance, child welfare, conflict resolution and the equality of tribes and religious groups.
Such advocacies are only allowed for local NGO’s who can raise 90 percent of their own funds locally. “The government’s reason for the ban on advocacy activities is that it could ruin the country’s image outside”, said the analyst who also questioned the negative effects of the current restrictions on the country’s image, “particularly if the resulting factor is a worse image outside Ethiopia”. “The restrictions are baseless”, the aid worker indicated.
Apart from the recent restrictions, the government has also suspended 42 local NGO’s operating in the southern region of the country claiming that they are operating out of their mandate.
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